By: Laura Schulte with Wausau Daily Herald
Kevin Korpela, Megan Curtes Korpela and the employees of Downtown Grocery this weekend will begin to fill the shelves of their newly renovated downtown store.
It's been two years since a fire ripped through the organic grocery store's location at 607 N. Third St. and more than a year since the business undertook an ambitious renovation project to remake the gutted store. In the interim, Downtown Grocery opened a temporary location in the food court at Wausau Center mall. That store in the mall closed Wednesday to begin their transition back to their own building.
The move will likely take three days to complete, Korpela said. Then the business will need a bit of time to get organized and start to fill the empty spaces on the shelves with new products.
The Korpelas expect the store to be open by the end of August, just shy of the September 2015 anniversary of the fire that forced the business out of the two-story brick building. A teenager threw a cigarette into a cardboard dumpster behind the building, starting the fire and forcing not only Downtown Grocery from the building, but also Evolve Fitness and Sweets on 3rd as well.
A view from the new loft within the Downtown Grocery building shows views into a new kitchen and a more open floor plan. (Photo: Laura Schulte/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
Today, only the outer brick shell of the building remains. The rest has been converted into a totally new space inside. That space will allow for an expanded inventory and new seating including on a balcony, Megan Curtes Korpela said.
"It will be a great spot for people to have a gathering," she said of the cozy second-floor loft.
Kevin Korpela and Megan Curtes Korpela expect their store's inventory to increase as much as 50 percent in some departments, thanks to the additional space within the new building.
"We're excited to be back in our old home, our old neighborhood and in our old building," Kevin Korpela said. "But at the same time, it's essentially a brand new building."
The Korpelas plan to host an official grand opening celebration in October or November after they've had a chance to bring in new inventory and get input from customers on new items they want to see on the shelves.